42°54 S - 71°19 W - Esquel is a town in the northwest of the province of Chubut, in the Argentine Patagonia. It is located in the Futaleufú Department, of which it is the government seat. The town's name derives from one of two Tehuelche words. One meaning "marsh" and the other meaning "land of burrs", which refers to the many thorny plants including the "pimpinela" and other herbaceous plants whose fruits, when ripe turn into prickly burrs that stick to the animals' skins and wool or people's clothes as a way of dissemination.
The city has a cold climate with low rainfall, the order of 400 mm. year. The summer is dry and mild, sunny days and temperatures of 32 ° C. Winter is the rainy season, especially in the June solstice, and temperatures are very low, with averages of the minimum of -3 ° C, so snowfalls are common. As for the extreme summer can pass the 32 ° C and in winter -20 ° C. Intermediate seasons, spring and autumn are cool and very variable . The climate belongs to continental cold dry season. An important variation of the rainfall occurs from west to east. The gradient of precipitation ranges from 4,000 mm annually in the Andes points, to only 600 mm annually. These climatic variations in addition to differences in soils and terrain, result in significant changes in vegetation and fauna. The winds blow from the northwest to southwest with quite often, but it is not uncommon in the fall come from the East, cold and dry winds. In this area temperatures can be very variable, regardless of the seasons. Something to consider is the variation between the records between night and day, in these latitudes the difference between maximum and minimum is usually quite large. Esquel, is a good spot for snowboarding and skiing during winter season at The Hoya.
The founding of the town dates back to the arrival of Welsh immigrants in Chubut in 1865. The settlement was created on 25 February 1906, as an extension of the Colonia 16 de Octubre, that also contains the town of Trevelin. According to the 2001 census [INDEC], the Esquel district had about 28,000 inhabitants, with one of the highest rates of growth in the province, mainly as result of the immigration of people from Buenos Aires, but also from other provinces. It has wide cement streets with sidewalks, and is clean and well maintained. Their hospital is the primary one for the zone and is often a destination for "Medical Tourism" from both foreigners and Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) alike.
The townspeople have been in a long battle to prevent a gold mine being set up nearby, with concerns that the metal extraction will contaminate the watercourse permanently and irreversibly. Although the mining companies were prohibited from producing mines in the area, there are still monthly street marches against the mines, and the issue never seems to feel fully settled.
In May 2009, Esquel twinned with Aberystwyth in Wales; with representatives of the Welsh town traveling to Argentina to participate in the signing of a charter formalising the link.
The city, the main town of the area, is located by the Esquel Stream and surrounded by the mountains La Zeta, La Cruz, Cerro 21 and La Hoya. La Hoya is known as a ski resort with good quality snow right through the spring. The Los Alerces National Park is 50 km (31 mi) northwest of the city. Another important tourist attraction is the narrow-gauge train (with 75 cm between the rails), known as La Trochita locally and in English as The Old Patagonian Express, after the book by Paul Theroux. It is said to be the only narrow-gauge long-distance train in operation and the southernmost railway in the world. The first fifty locomotives were brought from Germany (Henschel & Sohn) in 1922 and were originally modified to use fuel oil and steam. Later twenty-five locomotives were bought from the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. The train remains in operation and authentic thanks to the effort of the team of workers at Talleres Ferroviarios El Maiten, that make a lot of pieces and parts by hand. The trains now run as a tourist excursion between Esquel and the small settlement of Nahuel Pan, located at the foot of the volcano of the same name, with other services all the way to El Maitén. Until 1993, the train ran all the way to the city of Ingeniero Jacobacci in Río Negro, from where trains ran to Viedma and from there to Buenos Aires, forming the General Roca railway.
WHERE TO SLEEP?:
We had experience and check two hotels that we recommend to you.
1) Hosteria Plaza Esquel is a very good set three star hotel where you can get private rooms, with doble or separate beds, and also complete equipmented apartments to stay as in your own house with friends or family. The Hotel is very well manage by Miguel, the man in charge to provide with what ever you may need. People like Ernesto, front desk manager, can provide you with any necessary info to spent a great time outside the hotel, and when you come back tired, the beautifull Spa, will wait you with two pools, dry and wet sauna and a relax area with cool drinks and orange juice, just too wonderfull to end the day. For more info and booking visit them at: www.plazaesquel.com.ar
2) Hotel Tehuelche, is a traditional hotel at Esquel City, one of the very first ones. Belongs to the Rayentray Group and is very good arrange by Blanca, the manager in charge to keep this nice and big hotel running. Rooms are huge, warms, well set and with good view to the sorrounding mountains. Breakfast is best, with a lot of variation to take, from hand made cakes, coffee, yogurt, milk, cookies, orange juice and more. You can also have lunch or dinner at the hotel cause it got a very nice restaurant. Wi Fi is available in all rooms, breakfast area and resto. The Hotel have a 160 people saloon for conference and metting. Futher info and booking check www.cadenarayentray.com.ar
WHERE TO EAT?:
We had check two very good options for you
1) If you like pasta “Don Chiquino” is the resto to go. This excellent and famous pasta restaurant has a unique way to see the life, as says in the entrance of the resto –“Pastas con Magia”, that means, “Magic and Pasta”, cause meantime you wait for your spaghetti, lasagna or sorrentino, “Tito " Don Chiquino´s owner, will tell you old stories, make magic for you, and make you laungh as never in an space full of antique things that seems to be a travel back in time. Meantime you watch the place, chit chat with Tito, and enjoy the area, “Sebas”, El Pelado, (Tito´s son cheff) will prepare for you the best pasta you ever taste. With combinations of trouts, salmons, and patagonian meat and cheeses, Don Chiquino Pastas, will give you and excuse to go Esquel, as they said “When you come to Don Chiquino, visit Esquel”. So, do not hesitate and enjoy best pasta ever. Visit their web site for booking, at www.donchiquino.com
2) Killarney´s is the option for young people, eventhough you may find a complete menu for many different tastes. Killarney´s is a well place irish pub, with a complete gallery of beers, drinks and wines, where you can taste good quality fast food, or very good cook wok rice with vegetables as I did. The good point is that if you want something they do not have it, the will prepared for you also, so, open mind as they are, Killarney´s is a wonderfull option to go, eat, enjoy, take some drinks and dance at Esquel city. Meet them at Facebook (Killarney S Esquel Chubut).
Esquel is well known as an ski center, but we can say that you have activities to do all year long. Each season is unique. You can ski in Winter, biking in Spring, water sports in Summer and trekking in Autumm, but really you can enjoy the area all months. We are working to provide you a list of best things to do for each season.
Patagonia Verde is a local travel agency which can arrange transfers and activities in the area, like visiting the Parque Nacional Los Alerces, ski weeks in The Hoya, and more. Visit www.patagonia-verde.com.ar for further info.
Enjoy the area, have fun
Mark Royo Celano